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10 Reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts slow - builds to a stunning climax - makes you think
If I had not read the back of this novel - giving the basic premise of Oliver looking for his adoptive brother - I might have put it down in confusion after the first chapter or two. Fortunately, this understanding made sense enough of the novel to keep me going.

The novel starts very slow - and the prologue is a glimpse into the novel itself - you are on the...
Published on February 27, 2010 by Alex S

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Confusion
What a struggle it was to finish this book. Although some of the writing was almost lyrical, it did nothing to move the story (such as it is) along, and I would have traded it all for more workman-like prose and a coherent plot. There's just too much: too much quirkiness, too many plot threads, and way too much coincidence.

At the heart of the plot is that the...
Published on February 21, 2010 by SandyCB


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts slow - builds to a stunning climax - makes you think, February 27, 2010
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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If I had not read the back of this novel - giving the basic premise of Oliver looking for his adoptive brother - I might have put it down in confusion after the first chapter or two. Fortunately, this understanding made sense enough of the novel to keep me going.

The novel starts very slow - and the prologue is a glimpse into the novel itself - you are on the outside looking in on a story of strangers. They are strangers to you and strangers to one-another. Slowly you watch as you begin to understand the past, one small piece at at time, until all of the pieces join together in one explosive climax.

The novel is played against the background of two photographers, one who pieces lives together through video; and the other who takes photos of strangers in their homes in an attempt to build a connected web of the universal nature of humanity. Their perspective of what constitutes life is played out in the revelations of the novel itself, which seems to be a "video" of glimpses into the lives of the characters, with fades from one scene to another until the whole of the story (or life) and the connected nature of each individual is revealed.

I might have given the novel only 3 stars because it was so slow-paced at the beginning, but I found myself haunted by the ideas and concepts of the novel if not the characters themselves. From the beginning, I found quotes that I actually underlined in the book that made me think - things like Oliver wondering if when his Mother told him to lighten up, maybe what she meant was that he needed to dance.

In the end, if there is not a feeling of redemption, at least there is a feeling of hope that redemption can happen in spite of all circumstances. The author achieves a feeling, not only of connectedness, but of the cyclical nature of life itself.

This is not a mystery or suspense book that will grab you from page one and not let you go. This is not a romance that will leave you feeling warm-hearted and gushing. You never really get to know the characters themselves. Even the plot is unlikely. But when you are finished reading this book, you may find yourself looking at things from a different perspective, and I doubt you will forget it for a long time. For me, that makes it a book worth reading.

Four stars - maybe it really deserves five and I don't understand it well enough to give it what it deserves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Confusion, February 21, 2010
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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What a struggle it was to finish this book. Although some of the writing was almost lyrical, it did nothing to move the story (such as it is) along, and I would have traded it all for more workman-like prose and a coherent plot. There's just too much: too much quirkiness, too many plot threads, and way too much coincidence.

At the heart of the plot is that the sudden death of a pathologist many years ago led to his wife's surrendering of the child they'd planned to adopt. The pathologist's young son feels the loss keenly, and years later as an adult resolves to find this child. We are asked to believe that an infant would be given to the widow weeks after her husband's demise, and furthermore to believe that once surrendered such a child could be found again. I found both points far-fetched, but they're easier to take than the son, who is making a living creating biographical videotapes for bereaved families, while using his spare time to dress like his father and create pseudo photographic memories for his lost brother. He meets up with a girl whose hobby is photographing people in their own homes at night -- they leave the curtains open as their consent. These are the sort of people you edge away from at parties -- creepy. Had the book dealt only with their relationship, it would have been far more coherent, but instead it veers off in other directions. We find out more about his sister, his mother, his neighbor, his lost brother, his lost brother's girl friend, and his neighbor's clients. Reading this book is the mental equivalent of visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet and taking a spoonful of everything. Too much, yet ultimately unsatisfying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars psychologically astute depth in character development, March 1, 2010
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This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
nailed the underlying psychology of unresolved grief and the obsessional defenses against loss beautifully. I love to find a writer who 'gets' stuff like that....especially one with a gift for language that makes me want to read passages out loud every few pages. The apparent simplicity of the character development gives way to spare, but eloquent depth. And you ended it very nicely, a surprise and a resolution all wrapped up in the last chapter. The reader knows these quirky characters she's come to care about will all be OK.
I've ordered copies for five friends! Keep working, Meg...you have a growing fan club!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Tale of Discovery, February 22, 2010
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patbell451 (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Dear Strangers is a great read! Just the right amount of pathos and humor. The emotional depth creates some tough moments, but, ultimately, the novel is mysterious and moving. I was especially taken with the unique characters and their trajectories. As a male reader, I really connected with Oliver who is trapped between his past and his future. The author is superb at capturing this angst. A deep, revelatory novel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Needed clarification or a better editor, April 18, 2010
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This was one of those books that I read and I kept on waiting for it to get better or pick up the pace. Like other reviewers, I was glad that I read the box (the back of the book), so that I had a clue to what in the heck was taking place.

The book never really grabbed me. I felt like I had to finish it in order to finish it--and not because I wanted to read it. Grief is a major theme in the book and this is such an important issue that I felt that it wasn't given proper exploration.

I finished the book and felt, "that's it."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely slow paced, but overall good., April 14, 2010
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This was a huge struggle to read the book, but I felt that I did like it once I did finish it. I wish it hadn't been so quirky, and instead of conveying so many thoughts of the characters, that it would just pull back a bit. I can see why people could give this up so easily, because of its quirkyness, but once it did get to a payoff, it did finally become interested. There is a lot of fat that needs to be cut up to be served as lean meat, though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, April 16, 2014
By 
SALLY MACK (NEW MEXICO, USA) - See all my reviews
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Mullins has the ability to describe characters and settings which pulls you into the story. This book will appeal to women of any age.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, February 2, 2013
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Enjoyed the book, but took forever to get my interest. Thought it should have a more complete end to it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Circus of Absurdity, February 12, 2010
This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Plot: Well. We've got a family who, in the early eighties, gives up a child for adoption after another member's death. Years later, the son thinks he's tracked down his long-lost brother. There is an act of violence which changes what might have been a positive reunion, though perhaps not. Pages go by, as the victim's life hangs in the balance. There are profound musings on photography, voyeurism, image control, and how they are metaphors for the character's lives. Then it ends, but I won't give away any more spoilers. (Most of this synopsis is on the back cover.)

I agree with the other reviewer that the pacing was sluggish and it took a very long time before anything "major" happened. Yes, there are plenty of small moments captured for the reader, but I kept wondering when the story proper was going to start.

Also I personally found the long lost brother more interesting than the other characters. However, he did not turn out to have as big a role in the story as I expected.

Another reader may well love this book. It just didn't appeal to me.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uncontrolled Pain, February 19, 2010
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Yours Truly (New York, New York USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dear Strangers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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There is some lyrical writing in this novel, and some of the characters might have been suggested by Anne Tyler (not a bad thing) but, ultimately, the writer does not have control of the story. The first chapter is narrated by a character we don't meet until much later. The pivotal event, the passing off of an adopted baby, doesn't occur until midway through the book when it has little impact on the motion of the narrative. The stepfather is referred to, in separate chapters, as Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Scrap, and it takes a while to find out these are the same person. While the orphaned adult son who is the protagonist has some interesting thoughts and characteristics, ultimately, the novel is a struggle.
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Dear Strangers: A Novel
Dear Strangers: A Novel by Meg Mullins (Hardcover - February 4, 2010)
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